Transnational Influences of Early Jesuit Scholars and Explorers in the New World From 1560-1700

Project Abstract

Expansion and exploration of foreign territories such as the New World and the Far East by Europeans grew rapidly during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Exploration of these new area lead to developments in understanding of the new places, and the Society of Jesus was one of the forces that facilitated this worldwide social exchange. The purpose of this research is to explore how The Society of Jesus had transnational influences due to their structure and their early explorations and scholarly work done within New France in the 1600s. The Society of Jesus has been studied repeatedly from a Eurocentric point of view, but to fully understand the Society one should study it as a transnational phenomenon in which “[t]he state as both the basic unit of analysis and the main agent is replaced by intergovernmental institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and transnational non-state actors”. The Jesuits began their path to individuality when they were deemed loyal only to the Pope and the leader of their specific religious order. In the case of the missionary work of the Jesuits, their being independent allowed them to be more effective as a connection between cultures because they did not need to pay attention to political diplomatic relations.

Most of the information gathered by Jesuit missionaries in New France and other places became resources within Jesuit schools stationed globally as other reference documents. The Jesuit schools began to become filled with reference materials about New France and other foreign missions. These collections accumulated over years which allowed the Jesuit colleges to become the most advanced in knowledge about foreign lands and colonies that was unprecedented in Europe at that time. Gradually these materials become available for the public as the Jesuits realized that sharing this information they gathered could lead to a large transference of knowledge and possibly increase funding for further expeditions. Information gathered by the Jesuits was critical to monarchies and investors that had put assets into their colonies and businesses in New France because what the Jesuits reported impacted their future business and territorial decisions.

The Jesuit investment in journaling and documenting promoted an increase in the transfer of literature across the Atlantic. The Jesuits produced and distributed dictionaries, the Relations, religious materials, medicinal practices, natural plants, etc. The Society of Jesus’s devotion to cultural exchange had lasting impacts on global awareness of other societies and led to an exponential growth in transnational relations.

Funding Type

Research Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts




Bachelor of Arts




David Pizzo, PhD.

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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